In Let’s Pretend This Never Happened, Jenny Lawson regaled readers with uproarious stories of her bizarre childhood. In her new book, Furiously Happy, she explores her lifelong battle with mental illness. A hysterical, ridiculous book about crippling depression and anxiety? That sounds like a terrible idea. And terrible ideas are what Jenny does best.
As Jenny says: ‘You can’t experience pain without also experiencing the baffling and ridiculous moments of being fiercely, unapologetically, intensely and (above all) furiously happy.’ It’s a philosophy that has – quite literally – saved her life.
Jenny’s first book, Let’s Pretend This Never Happened, was ostensibly about family, but deep down it was about celebrating your own weirdness. Furiously Happy is a book about mental illness, but under the surface it’s about embracing joy in fantastic and outrageous ways. And who doesn’t need a bit more of that?
This book. This book is brilliant. I have to confess, I haven’t read Lawson’s first book but it is most definitely on my to-buy list now.
I can’t quite remember how I stumbled across Furiously Happy, but stumble I did. With a cover like that I couldn’t just click away – I had to know what it was about, who it was by, why it existed and all those wonderful things you find out when you look into and then buy a book.
Except I didn’t buy this one. I read a bit of the ‘look inside’ on Amazon, added it to my wishlist after falling a little bit in love with the writing style and then went on my merry way. About a month later, when my birthday happened, I opened a present from my parents and there it was, a taxidermy raccoon staring out at me.
I started it reading it that day and finished it the next, which is quite impressive considering I read most of it out loud to my family and my boyfriend.
Reading aloud is not something I do by choice, I go lobster red and stumble my way through almost every word. It is a bad time for everyone involved. But with Furiously Happy I just had to share everything. There was very little that I did not read aloud. This is a testament to both the writing and the stories themselves – I use stories with a pinch of salt here, they are true, perhaps I should say anecdotes but they feel more story-like.
Furiously Happy is relatable, I found myself thinking ‘that sounds like something I would do’ throughout, and my boyfriend actually exclaimed that I would have done some of those things too were I in those situations. It makes typically difficult subjects easy to digest and engage with and that can never be a bad thing. Lawson has a way of writing about really serious things in a really entertaining way that doesn’t mock or jibe.
I don’t often read memoirs and the like, I prefer my books to have a little bit of magic to them, but I discovered that sometimes memoirs have their own kind of magic. Furiously Happy definitely does. I was hooked, completely and utterly.
I would recommend this book to everyone. Seriously. Buy it, read it, love it.